Now that I’m done devoting an entire senior essay to Daniel Patrick Moynihan and how he managed to blame female-headed households for the problems of Black America, I have more time to devote to things that don’t make me want to punch someone in the mouth (and I don’t have to properly footnote these things, which I doubt we could do anyway because we can’t even print italics on this page).
A few weeks ago, before Pat Moynihan and I started getting intimate, I was hanging out with some of my Davenport goonies discussing relations between sexes in postindustrial America’s institutions of higher learning.
There were, of course, topics that the men and women in the room agreed upon. What these topics were I don’t recall, mainly because they weren’t that important. Things people agree on in conversation are, like masturbation, pleasant but not particularly memorable. But while discussing some point of collegiate sexual procedure, a debate broke out, dividing the room by chromosomal allegiance. Calls were made, IMs sent; passionate argument and rebuttal were at a fever pitch as a titantic gauntlet was thrown. In the ongoing battle of the sexes, one question reigned supreme that night: In a sexual encounter, who teabags who?
The mood was tense as each side made its argument. The fellas made the point that the lad in the situation was the teabagger and the lass the teabagee for the simple fact that he places his junk in her mouth. The ladies argued that this was not so; that the lass was in the position of bagger because she’s not an idle spectator as junk enters her mouth. The lines in the room were drawn. Where other topics had led a party or two from each side of the aisle to utter a “Well, maybe …,” this one had closed the ranks completely. There were no shrugging maybes. There was no negotiation. With the conversation at an impasse, we decided to consult outsiders in hopes of breaking the stalemate.
Several people in the room went to their phonebooks to subpoena a reliable witness of the opposite sex, someone who would sway the conversation in their favor (Sidebar 1: Since cell phones became par for the course, I’m pretty sure no one remembers peoples’ phone numbers off the top of their head). I, for my part, called my buddy T.M. She’s been a young Bob Horry for a few years now, so I was feeling good as I put her on speakerphone. I sat smug, confident, knowing she’d shut the game down. And she completely and utterly betrayed me. She too sided with the females in the room! Crestfallen, the gents continued in the battle.
The conversation turned to matters of technical semantics. The gentlemen argued in favor of beverage preparation: A guy’s junk was the entire teabag. And the obliging mouth in which the bag went? A mug of hot water, ready for the steeping. Hogwash, the women cried. The junk was but the tea leaves. Their mouth? The willing receptacle that bagged them; hence they were the teabagger. Ironically, during this back and forth, we never discussed the fact that girls don’t even use the term “teabag” unless they’re talking about Constant Comment or some such. Any bawdy euphemisms concerning testicles are usually placed under the general heading of “fellatio.” In fact, in (lewd) conversation, women don’t really mention the act at all, which is telling in and of itself (Sidebar 2: That being said — here I think it’s important that the fellas pay special attention — don’t for one second think that girls can’t get filthy with the best of them. And with such detail. My goodness. Many an outlandish female comment has contributed to the wrinkle you see in my brow today. Fairer sex, my left foot).
The men countered with a cogent hypothetical: If you went up to a dude and said, in a congratulatory tone, that you heard he had gotten teabagged, he would want to engage in fisticuffs. To him, this would not be miscommunication, it would be slander. Needless to say (but I will anyway), the ladies sat unconvinced, and the conversation did a few more haggard laps before we tabled the discussion in favor of a Wenzel expedition.
As I discussed with Sammy J later, this discussion of ball placement was one of perceived power on its most basic level. For a man, power is putting your junk in someone’s mouth. Besides feeling physically fantastic, it’s an assertion of dominance. Life is good; our balls are getting juggled and, if we’re feeling real good about ourselves, we’ll even ask if Miss Thing likes it, as if having balls in your mouth can be measured on a scale of enjoyment. We don’t really care if she likes it. In fact, if she didn’t like it and did it anyway that’s another notch in our tough guy belt.
For women, it’s a matter of agency: The power is in the permission given. She allowed a man this intimate access. Men say this is not a position of power. A woman asks what power this man has in the face of her jaw and teeth. A man says that it is the same power that keeps her from doing something rash. An interesting truth in the sexual relations between men and women is that men feel they grant power in the situation. The logic is simple for guys: If you’re not granting power, you’re taking orders and taking orders is weak.
A woman’s technical view of teabagging is irrelevant to a man; as far as he’s concerned, he didn’t grant power, he granted permission. In fact, she submitted to his will. A girl didn’t suck his balls; he teabagged her. There can’t be a female equivalent to teabagging because men won’t allow it. As Sammy J and I rapped, he asked, with brooding concern, “How much power do women have in a sexual situation?” We’re two grown people, fairly educated and until this casual chat about a rather ribald subject, we hadn’t really considered the question.
So who’s right? I can’t really say. I mean, I cannot get my mind around the idea of getting teabagged, but I also can’t say mouths have just magically opened at the sight of my pills. Why? I don’t know. It just hasn’t happened.
So who’s wrong here? I would say Black women, but Pat Moynihan and Don Imus beat me to it. Peace to the liberal arts education.
Penultimate Thought: People who write about society tap and how it doesn’t matter are salty they weren’t tapped.
Final Thought: If you can grow mutton chops, you should do that.
Jon Pitts-Wiley prefers English Breakfast to Earl Grey..